Blog Post

Vudu Casts a Spell on NYT

Vudu, another new digital movies-to-tv service, gets a huge hype treatment on the front business page in Sunday NYT, so much so that the story rivals the recent spate of completely-clueless-John-Markoff-NYT-front-pagers.

Anyway, the company: Vudu was formed in 2004, and is a box which delivers movies to the TV, the likes of which have been tried in various combinations by Akimbo, now-defunct Moviebeam, recently-launched AppleTV, with mixed results till now. The company’s idea is simple: sell a box which can download movies through P2P, and store locally the start of each of the movies it will be selling, so that users get the instantaneous-on experience while the rest gets downloaded in the background. Also, it has managed deals with all major studios except Sony (devil is in details: not sure what kinds of movies studios have done deals on). And yes, it has some good lineage of former Tivo execs, and other Silicon Valley types. It has $21 million in funding from Greylock and Benchmark. It plans to start selling this summer. (Lots of pics of the system here on Gizmodo)

But, and a huge “but”, it is a box. Another box. Another remote. Another $300. And then, the priceless hype. Sample this from Vudu’s founder: “This is something that is going to alter the landscape…We are rewriting economics.” And this from Brad Stone, the writer who has a rather-longish momentary-lapse-of-reason writing this: “Vudu, if all goes as planned, hopes to turn America’s televisions into limitless multiplexes, providing instant gratification for movie-buffs…If Vudu succeeds, it may mean goodbye to laborious computer downloads, sticky-floored movie theaters and cable companies’ much narrower video-on-demand offerings. It may even mean a fond farewell to the DVD itself.” Pass me the empty popcorn bag: I might throw up a little.

4 Responses to “Vudu Casts a Spell on NYT”

  1. Jennifer

    There's definitely room in the market for this — and the idea of storing the beginnings of movies locally to ensure instant starting is rather genius. (Though, I doubt this could hold up for a "limitless multiplex.")

    The article was a bit much, though. Sounded straight from a PR release.

    But, they seem to get that people want real on-demand. instant starts. That's a good sign that these guys should be taken seriously.

    It's also a bad sign for cable companies, which will have yet another company going after their audiences. Shelly Palmer has written some good articles about this problem plaguing the cable companies, and it's worth reading:

    For them, time's will be rough. For us, pretty interesting.

    – Jennifer

  2. If Apple TV goes anywhere, there will be room in the market for a competitor. The issue is they'll have to match Apple TV's business model, which will be near impossible, given that they have 0 leverage with studios, no install base, etc. If it's rentals via Windows Media, then they are sunk before they even open up shop for business.